Interview with Grant W. Curry of Flood Twin

Atlanta’s Flood Twin is a trio creating dark, visceral post-punk music that draws power from minimalism. Fronted and produced by bassist/vocalist Grant W. Curry (Pleasure Club), the group recently released their self-titled debut album. Curry formed Flood Twin after relocating from Louisiana, initially collaborating with guitarist J. Leslie Hedberg and then bringing in drummer Sterling. Together, they have crafted an abrasive, tightly focused sound that also maintains an edge of rawness. In a phone interview, Curry discussed Flood Twin and the making of their album.

How did this project come about?

Grant W. Curry: After Pleasure Club split up, I spent a few years really starting to focus on music production. I had a studio in Louisiana outside of Ponchatoula, kind of in the middle of nowhere. It was a beautiful place on the Bayou. I spent a lot of time there, working on different records and some occasional side projects on my own. But I wasn’t regularly active in a band. Then Hurricane Katrina impacted my life really deeply, and I moved to Georgia. I needed to move inland. I spent a few years here, just kind of floating and trying to find my footing. I did put together a studio here. I rented space, and I’ve continued to make records for other people.

I started wanting very much to put a band together again. I had some compositions I had been working on that weren’t really quite coming together. I found J. Leslie Hedberg here in town, who’s just an extraordinary talent. He and I really clicked, and the material started to really move forward. And then ultimately, we found ourselves ready to really try and put a full band together. And that’s when I approached Sterling. Sterling and I worked with each other years before and had toured quite a lot together and made a couple of records together. And I just had a real strong feeling about him possibly being great for this project. So I asked him if he’d be interested, He heard the material and he really flipped out and wanted to come down for an audition, from Jersey, where he lives. And so from there, it was almost instantaneous that we knew he was the right drummer for this. That’s how the band came together.

When you were doing production work, were you focused on any particular styles?

Grant W. Curry: I don’t know that I was necessarily focused on a particular style other than to say I was mostly interested in just figuring out how to record music. And I had a great mentor in Ethan Allen, who was the house engineer at Kingsway studios with Daniel Lanois, Malcolm Byrne, Trina Schumacher, and Mark Howard. Ethan just taught me how to operate things. And from there, I really just tried to use my instincts and my ears to start finding a sound that was favorable to me. So I wasn’t necessarily interested in producing mainstream artists. I was really interested in producing artists that had something interesting to offer. I worked with Blackfire Revelation, for example, who were a really heavy three-piece and a real joy to work with. Then I worked with the Dark Horse Project from Milwaukee. That was very beautiful, almost fifties, early sixties, inspired songs, songstress kind of thing. I’ve worked with a few other rock bands, but nothing really mainstream. I wasn’t really trying to do that. I was looking to do things that were fulfilling and interesting.

Did any of those projects influence what became Flood Twin?

Grant W. Curry: I guess I would say that just my whole experience during that time just had such a deep impact on me and in the way that I was impacted by water. I was surrounded by water; New Orleans, obviously being surrounded by water. But then later on the Tangipahoa River river where I worked there. And the water of the flooding. Water changed me. I know that may sound like a silly thing or just kind of a nebulous concept, but water has figured very deeply in my life and my dream state. So there’s that. And also I really go for things that have a very raw and honest texture, sonically, and the productions I was doing just weren’t flowery and they weren’t pristine. They had real tooth to them. And I just found that I loved that sound so much. And with Flood Twin I pounced; it also has very raw quality to it. It has certainly has an immediate quality. Everything was tracked live and everything on the album is like first or second take. Tracks are overdriven in a way that makes them feel very tactile when listening.

Was it obvious that you wanted this to be a trio?

Grant W. Curry: Yeah, I wanted a trio. I’m really attracted to minimalism in general. My visual art has a very minimal quality to it. And typically, the music I’ve made over the last fifteen years has also been minimal. I tend not to a lot of tracks. I don’t do a lot of overdubs. So this being a trio was very intentional. I didn’t want a second guitar. I wanted things to really have some space to speak. And I also wanted a lot of negative space. In the compositions, you can hear there’s tons of negative space; things are more reductive than they are additive. When we go from a part that is more subdued to a bigger part, it’s not because we’re adding more instruments that it sounds bigger.

The minimalism definitely gives it a lot of power. Did you have a strong sense as to what the tracks needed, or did you find yourself stripping away things?

Grant W. Curry: I think that on this record anyways, I really knew what I wanted. I came into it with just a whole lot of intention, and so did the rest of the band. While we left room for accidents in the studio, we knew what we were there to do. We didn’t really imagine it sounding that much different than it came out. I knew what I wanted for this, and I just didn’t want a fussy record.

Was doing lead vocals something that you’d always seen yourself doing, or was that just out of necessity with this line-up?

Grant W. Curry: It’s not something I always saw myself doing. I have been a bass player throughout my career, and I love that. I’ve been very content in that role, being a bass player and composer, and co-composer with different people. But I never really saw myself as a lead vocalist. I just don’t have a good singing voice, and I’m not being modest. I’m being truthful in that. I don’t have a strong singing voice, and I’m not ashamed of it. And I’m not gonna try and pretend with that. I just don’t sing well. I had some things that were very important to me to say on this record. And so, as I was in the early stages of putting together the material, I did see myself as the lead vocalist. I just knew there wasn’t going to be any way for me to hide and have somebody else put their voice to this stuff. So I knew I was going to be stuck with it, and I better figure out a way to make it work. And I think I did find a way to make it work, and I found a fairly comfortable place, in terms of how I use my voice. It’s more of a speak-sing. There’s a couple moments on the record where I do sing, in a singing voice, and I think those moments came off very good and I was very pleased with them.

“On Heaven, ” and “If You Were Jesus,” were in more of a singing voice. I think that those both came out really good. So anyway, I’m encouraged by that and who knows, maybe I’ll find myself doing more singing in the future. I don’t know. But the speak-sing really works on this record because the guttural quality of everything really fits in the context and with what my subject matter is.

Did the pandemic have an effect on the timing of the album?

Grant W. Curry: J and I were starting to work together in January of 2020. Funny enough, Pleasure Club, my previous band, had two reunion shows that we did in early February of 2020. Right as people were starting to get a little nervous. We did two shows in Atlanta back to back, and people were nervous. J and I took a little break just for that, so I could rehearse for that and do those shows. And then we got back to it, and then come June of 2020, we were ready to bring in a drummer. And that’s when Sterling joined the band. And then in September, we tracked the record here in Atlanta. We did it over four days.

We did it really quick. That was very intentional. And then I took the tracks out to Los Angeles, where Ethan Allen mixed the record. And so we’ve been sitting on it since October. We had the masters back by the end of October of last year. We just decided to be patient with the release with regard to what was happening with the pandemic. And finally we just decided, okay, we can’t wait much longer. Let’s go ahead and put this out. And we’ll maybe play a couple shows, require vaccination and the wearing of masks. And we’re going to try and have people feel as comfortable and safe as possible. And then we’re just gonna sit back for the rest of the year, see how things play out with the pandemic. And hopefully, in the new year, we’re out doing some proper touring. We’re gonna be starting a radio campaign real soon.

What can we expect from live shows, perhaps in terms of how the sound compares to the album?

Grant W. Curry: We’re finding that the record songs certainly have a greater intensity when we’re playing them live. They’re just a little more raw. I think that the live sets are going to be pretty exciting. Feels a little dangerous, with what we’re doing. It feels a little more unhinged, not surprisingly, I think it’s gonna be a, probably a, pretty intense experience.

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